Ugandan Innovator Franc Kamugyisha Scoops Commonwealth Young person of the Year Award.

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Ugandan Innovator Franc Kamugyisha, has won the overall title of 2022 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year and will receive a total of £5,000. Franc was awarded for his Eco Plastile recycling initiative that turns consumer waste into biodegradable face-masks

More than 1,000 entries were received this year – the highest ever recorded. Twenty finalists were selected across each of the award’s regional categories following a rigorous judging process.

In addition to winning the overall award , Franc Kamugyisha also took home the regional award for Africa.

Franc was inspired to start ‘EcoPlastile’ by his own experience of living in a slum community in Kampala.

There he witnessed the dire consequences of poor waste disposal; with post-consumer waste plastic littering streets, clogging sewers, and encroaching on poorly built houses during heavy rains.

The project has created over 180 jobs paying 1.9 times the national wage, recycled 360 tonnes of plastic; and has launched a micro insurance programme through which over 100 uninsured households can use plastic waste as a financial resource for medical services. 

Accepting the prestigious award, Franc described the award as a stamp of approval of their efforts.

‘Winning the Commonwealth Youth Award is a stamp of approval for our small efforts as a social enterprise. It means a lot to EcoPlastile on our strategy to scale and impact a bigger community in Africa.

“The recognition from the Commonwealth Youth Award will enable us to get more visibility and connect us to young and like-minded young people across the world solving today’s global challenges.” He said.

At the event Five exceptional young people were named regional winners at the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2022 for impressive projects alleviating poverty; improving education; promoting action on the climate and addressing gender equality.

Organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, the awards recognise outstanding Commonwealth  (aged 15-29), from the different Commonwealth regions (Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and Canada, and Australia and the Pacific) whose projects are transforming lives in their communities; providing practical solutions to complex problems and helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda.

Addressing the awards ceremony, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Patricia Scotland QC said

“Young people are central to the role and purpose of the Commonwealth – and at the heart of our work. 

“One of the many things that amazes and excites me most about our Commonwealth young people is their ingenuity.

“Whether the challenge they are tackling is new or centuries-old, their innovative spirit, energy and passion offer us out-of-the-box solutions that can change the world for the better.

“I am proud to put our incredible young people in the spotlight with these awards.”

The other regional award winners are:

  • Asia: Edward Yee, Singapore, for co-founding ‘GivFunds Social Ventures,’ a non- profit organisation which provides sustainable and low-cost capital to neglected social enterprises.
  • Europe and Canada: Jemima Lovatt, United Kingdom, for launching an initiative that partners with businesses to address taboo topics such as domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and unequal pay.
  • Caribbean: Mickel Alexander, Trinidad and Tobago, for founding ‘The 2 Cents Movement’ – a youth-led, arts-based educational programme supporting up 30,000 young people annually.
  • Pacific: Thompson Auri, Papua New Guinea, for a project renovating closed airstrips so isolated communities have vital access to treatment and services.

More than 1100 entries were received this year – the highest ever recorded. Twenty finalists were selected across each of the award’s regional categories following a rigorous judging process.

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